Scaling up from prototype to mass production can be the most vexing stage in product development.
Innova Engineering Inc. has upgraded its capabilities to help companies make the transition.
The Irvine, Calif., company has acquired a research and development facility that adds fabrication services and prototype testing to its forte of computer simulation in product development. Since buying and moving equipment into the Santa Ana, Calif., facility three months ago, Innova is in the midst of its first big project to draw on the new skills.
“We are now producing an automated assembly line for a single-use pharmaceutical product,” Innova President John Cogger said in a phone interview. He wouldn't reveal the client or other details but plastics are specified for some 99 percent of Innova's work.
The line includes pick and place robots needed to manufacture the product in large volumes, and a Class 100 flow hood to ensure cleanliness in manufacturing.
Innova has specialized in difficult engineering problems for 22 years, such as fiber orientation in thermoplastic molded into a part, using computer modeling. Once its solutions prove successful, Innova transfers the methods, techniques, expertise and software applications to the client, usually a manufacturer in medical, aerospace, automotive and consumer industries. Innova will continue providing these services from its original design center in Irvine while new capabilities are added in Santa Ana.
Cogger said most of his firm's work has involved injection molding, but it has done some simulation for extrusion. The company has plans to add in-house research-scale injection molding machinery and testing equipment in Santa Ana.
“The new R&D facility will allow us to take our clients beyond the conceptual design engineering process into physical fabrication and prototype testing,” Cogger explained.
Cogger originally founded the business in 1987 as a mechanical engineering consulting firm called Leading Edge Design. After an ownership change in 1991, the business evolved into its current focus to address the lack of simulation infrastructure in most corporations. The medical and pharmaceutical industries were quick to respond to Innova's offerings. In 2000 it adopted its Innova name.
Innova employs finite element analysis and other computer simulation tools in product development. Its premise is to reduce the cost of product development and cut down the time to market. It claims to be expert in material selection, product and tooling design, manufacturing simulation and design for manufacturing and assembly.